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Idealog Year in Review 2017: David Downs

Favourite innovation that isn’t yours?

Advanced gene therapy for cancer treatment. It’s a little self-serving, given I have been battling cancer for most of this year (feel like helping out? Head here), but the advances in fighting cancer are remarkable. I am about to take part in a clinical trial of a new treatment where they will actually modify the DNA of my blood cells to recognise and fight cancer. It’s Sci-Fi stuff really.

Favourite innovation that is yours?

Not sure I have a favourite, but my least favourite is the tumour I have been growing all year. Not my finest work.

Most interesting launch/trend/idea/building/product of the year?

I’m going to say the Waterview tunnel. For once a public works project that appears to have delivered on its promises.

Lamest launch/trend/idea/brand/building/product of the year?

The Smurfs at the BP stations. I remember when they had Smurfs in petrol stations as a kid, and these ones were a very poor comparison. They didn’t even have legs!

Most promising New Zealand company/companies?

Too many to name – but I do know a good book that lists a whole pile of them ? . Check out No. 8 Recharged to find out more [or support Idealog and get a free one]. 


If I have to pick one, it’s going to have to be Peter Beck. He sent a rocket to space. Twice. 


Donald Trump, for trying to lead the world backwards by about 50 years.

Best stoush?

The silliness around Xero’s delisting. They are an amazing company, taking the next step in their evolution. Let’s see how we can grow 100 more of them, rather than by making innovators worried about having to manage the tall poppy syndrome.

Your own biggest success?

Getting through 11 rounds of chemotherapy and keeping my sense of humour. I did lose my hair, however.

What’s the biggest mistake innovators/businesses will make this year? 

It will be in underestimating the pace of change. Things are changing exponentially, not linearly.

What do you expect to see in the next five years?

Rocket launches from Mahia becoming routine.

What will be dead in the next five years?

Hopefully not me.

What should be invented and/or un-invented?

Democracy. It’s been struggling for the past couple of years.

Favourite book/TV show/podcast/album/website/magazine/story/performance-enhancing drug of the year?

www.givepoop.org  You can sell your poo for $40 a time. Awesome.

What’s the one piece of tech would you have on a desert island?

An umbrella.

Will the robots become sentient and kill us all? (asking for a friend)

No (but watch your back)

How long before we have:  

Driverless cars – They are already here!

Flying cars – Not until they solve the legal issues

Immortality – Never, I hope. We aren’t built to last forever

Cities that all look like Venice – Ask the president of the Maldives.

No planet to live on – I’m an optimist. We will see the error of our ways soon

No animals farmed or eaten – Never, but we will work out ways to do it more sustainably

Non-human lovers – From what I can see, most people are more in love with their phones than humans already

No cash – In some countries we are already there, but others struggle to get rid of the cash economy

Fusion energy – 20 years

Universal basic income – Never, it’s a flawed idea

Chips implanted in our brains – 20 years

Colonies on Mars – 20 years, but the prices will be too high to be counted as affordable housing


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One of the talented Idealog Team Content Producers made this post happen.

Review overview